08 March 2011

99. J.P. Donleavy, THE GINGER MAN

Do you like stately, plump Buck Mulligan? Want to spend 250 pages with him?

I grabbed this paperback in a hurry because I was going to Hoboken for St. Patrick's Day (observed on Saturday) and, o vanity, needed a book that would fit in my jacket pocket in case things got out of hand. (They didn't.) I had tried to read it almost four years ago and found it difficult to get into, but this time I sailed through the stream-of-consciousness musings of one Sebastian Dangerfield, American expat in Dublin ostensibly going to school on the G.I. Bill but largely scamming drinks and sleeping with every woman who will have him, to the obvious disapproval of his cold English wife.

From what I've read about THE GINGER MAN I know it was banned or at least restricted for much of its published life. It didn't offend me but the depravity wore me down even in that slim a volume. When Sebastian's fortunes seemed to take their umpteenth turn, I both wanted him to succeed in his latest scheme, and knew that he wouldn't. (Vagueness to avoid spoilers.) There is one really incredible sequence involving an animal costume, though.

J.P. Donleavy is in fact still with us -- this is his first novel, probably one of the only first novels on the Modern Library list, and seems to be at least somewhat autobiographical -- but hopefully he hasn't learned to Google himself.

Ellen VS. ML: 53 read, 47 unread.

Next up: After a long suspension, working on #85 LORD JIM on Dailylit.

1 comment:

Wade Garrett said...

Daily Lit is great. I loaded up my Kindle with free classics like this, but haven't read any of them yet. I bought a bunch for like 70% off when the Astor Place Barnes & Noble went out of business; now it looks as if those I haven't already read may never get their spines cracked.